Newly confirmed speaker:
Debbie Karcher, Chief Information Officer, Miami-Dade County Public Schools

Event Speakers:

Sheryl Abshire
Sheryl Abshire
Chief Technology Officer
Calcasieu Parish Public Schools, La.
View Bio | EW | EW | EW | Video | Video | Video | Gallery

Melissa Dodd
Melissa Dodd
Chief Information Officer
Boston Public Schools
View Bio | Article | Video | Video | Video | Video | Video

Sam Farsaii
Sam Farsaii
Director of Instructional Technology
Irving Independent School District, Texas
View Bio | EW | Video | Video | Gallery

Debbie Karcher
Debbie Karcher
Chief Information Officer
Miami-Dade County Public Schools
View Bio | Article | Article | Article | Video | Video | Gallery

Darryl LaGace
Darryl LaGacé
Chief Information and Technology Officer
San Diego Unified School District
View Bio | Article | Article | Article | EW | Video

Rob Mancabelli
Rob Mancabelli
Author and Educational Innovation Expert
View Bio | Blog | Twitter | Video | Gallery

John Mellios
John Mellios
Director, Education Tools and Technology
Chicago Public Schools
View Bio | Article

Kecia Ray
Kecia Ray
Executive Director Learning Technologies
Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
President elect, ISTE Board
View Bio | Article | Article | EW | Video | Video | Gallery

Will Richardson
Will Richardson
Co-founder of Powerful Learning Practice
View Bio | Blog | Twitter | TEDx Video | Video | Gallery | EW | EW | Gallery

Themistocles Sparangis
Themistocles Sparangis
Chief Technology Director, Technology Services & Support
Los Angeles Unified School District
View Bio | Article | EW | EW | Video | Gallery
 
Melissa Dodd
Chief Information Officer, Boston Public Schools

As the chief information officer for the Boston Public Schools, Dodd spearheads strategic academic and operational technology initiatives aligned with Boston’s Acceleration Agenda, its five-year education plan. Dodd leads a team of professionals to deliver a technology vision and foundation that empower students to learn everywhere and prepares them for college and career success in the 21st century.Since 2003, Dodd has worked for the Boston schools conducting technology project management, strategic planning, and professional development. In addition, she has led major district initiatives, including Laptops for Learning, providing a state-of-the-art laptop and suite of instructional software to every teacher, as well as the district’s implementation of a new student-information system.

Before joining the Boston district, she worked at Tufts and Harvard universities managing academic programs and designing online communities of practice. Dodd has presented nationally on the role of technology and online communities in supporting teaching and learning and has published on the use of digital simulations to teach problem-solving in the social sciences.

Rob Mancabelli
Co-author of Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education

Rob Mancabelli is a speaker, writer, and consultant on educational innovation. He’s the co-author of Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education (2011), a columnist for District Administration magazine, and a MBA graduate of MIT.

His work is built on 15 years of experience as a technology leader in public and private schools. Mancabelli serves on the educational advisory boards for Dell Computer and Acer Corporation.

Will Richardson
Author of Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms,

Will Richardson has been writing about the intersection of social online learning networks and education for the past 10 years at Weblogg-ed.com and in numerous journals and magazines. Recently, he shifted his blogging emphasis to willrichardson.com. He was a public school educator for 22 years and is a co-founder of Powerful Learning Practice, a unique professional-development program that has mentored over 3,000 teachers worldwide in the past three years.

His first book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms has sold more than 80,000 copies and has influenced classroom practice around the world. His second book, Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education was released in May 2011, coauthored with Rob Mancabelli. His articles have appeared in Educational Leadership, Education Week, English Journal, Edutopia, and Principal Leadership, among others. Over the past six years, he has spoken to tens of thousands of educators in more than a dozen countries about the merits of online learning networks for personal and professional growth. He is a member of the national advisory board of the George Lucas Educational Foundation and a columnist for District Administration magazine.

Cynthia Ann Hays
Chief Academic Officer, Boston Public SchoolsFor more than 30 years, Hays has served as an innovative educational leader in urban, suburban, public and private educational systems. She has taught at all levels, from kindergarten through graduate school and is a licensed superintendent, high school principal, K-12 Spanish teacher, K-8 bilingual-bicultural and ELL elementary education teacher. For the past ten years, she has worked with school systems as a transformational change consultant.Before taking her current position with Boston Public Schools, she was the director of leadership and organizational development with the Pacific Educational Group. Hays has also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota and guest lecturer at many colleges, universities, community organizations, churches and businesses throughout the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. She holds professional certifications in the areas of strategic planning, organizational development and management, leadership, executive coaching, wellness and spirituality, and conflict resolution and consensus building.

In her role as chief academic officer for Boston Public Schools, she is committed to eliminating racial achievement disparities while improving student learning results so that students of all races and cultures receive an equitable and excellent education that enables them to thrive and experience success in college, career and life.

Sheryl Abshire
Chief Technology Officer, Calcasieu Parish Public Schools, La.

Abshire has served as a catalyst to initiate the integration of technology throughout the nation and internationally by providing leadership on numerous national, state, and district committees focusing on the role of technology and curriculum in changing educational practice. A thirty-nine year veteran educator, she has worked as a school principal, K-5 teacher, a library/media specialist, a classroom teacher, and as a university professor. Sheryl is an accomplished grant writer and grants reader and regularly conducts institutes to fund innovative technology programs throughout the nation. She has written and directed grants in excess of $15 million.She was the first teacher inducted into the National Teachers’ Hall of Fame, serves as the past chair of the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), is on the K-12 Advisory Board for Blackboard, Dell’s Platinum Advisory Committee, Promethean National K-12 Advisory Committee, ISTE Standards and Accreditation Committee, and is Co-Chair of the ISTE/CoSN Policy Committee.

Abshire is the vice president for advocacy and programs and past president of the Louisiana Association of Computer Using Educators. She serves on the FCC Universal Services Administrative Corporation (USAC) Board representing our nation’s K-12 schools and libraries on ERATE issues. She has fifteen years of experience working on ERATE applications and issues. Additionally, she works in diverse staff development programs throughout the nation and in Great Britain involving restructuring schools through the infusion of technology and curriculum enhancements. In May of 2009, ISTE awarded Abshire the first “Public Policy Advocate of the Year” Award for her decades of work promoting educational technology.

Michelle R. Davis
Senior Writer, Education Week Digital Directions

Davis is a senior writer for Education Week Digital Directions, a magazine for K-12 technology leaders. She writes about cutting-edge trends in the education-technology world, and has penned stories for the magazine on everything from green computing to social networks.

Before shifting her attention to technology, Davis was a staff writer for Education Week, covering federal education issues in Congress and the U.S. Department of Education. Before joining Education Week, in 2002, Davis reported on federal politics for the Knight-Ridder Washington bureau.

Kecia Ray
Executive Director Learning Technologies, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, Tenn.
President elect of the Board, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)

Ray began her career as a middle school science teacher in the Atlanta area before moving to Nashville in 1994 to teach in one of the state’s first 21st Century classrooms, a statewide Title IID program. Ray also participated in the state’s first distance-learning network and served on the iNACOL research committee.

Ray later became an assistant professor at Middle Tennessee State University, where her research in assessing technology literacy led to a basic computer-literacy exam. She subsequently designed technology-rich learning spaces for the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, and in 2000 she became the director of technology research in the Office of Science Outreach at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Ray joined the Metropolitan Nashville school district in 2004 as district policy manager. In 2007, she was named assistant superintendent of federal programs and grants and remained in this position until 2010, when she became the district’s first executive director for learning technology. Ray also teaches graduate courses for University of Maryland University College and Bethel University. In June 2012, Ray was selected to be the president of the board for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).

Darryl LaGacé
Chief Information and Technology Officer
San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD)

LaGacé is responsible for the implementation of the San Diego district’s “i21” interactive-classroom initiative, an innovative design for the transformation of teaching and learning to reflect the needs of the 21st-century student. With the passage of Proposition S–a county ed-tech funding bond for the district’s one-to-one initiative voted on in November 2008–LaGacé championed the opportunity to revolutionize education in 7,000 SDUSD classrooms and affect the learning of 130,000 students. Focusing on today’s digital-age student, the essential tools of the i21 suite pair interactive-whiteboard technology with the teacher tablet PC and a 1-to-1 access ratio of student iPads and Netbooks districtwide to increase the ability to teach and to optimize engagement for all students.

Beyond the significant work he has done in creating and maintaining sophisticated networks for his district, LaGacé has provided leadership in educational technology at the national, state, and county levels. He is regularly sought out by educational agencies and industry to provide guidance on implementing 21st-century learning environments. LaGacé has served two times as president of the California Educational Technology Professionals Association; has been a board member of the Consortium for School Networking; and in 2010 was appointed to the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California board to oversee the implementation of broadband access for educational institutions across California.

LaGacé is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Computerworld Award for Innovative Educational Technology, the Civic Excellence Award for his work in K-12 education reform, the Cable in the Classroom Leaders in Learning Award, and the National Withrow Award, named for Frank Withrow, a pioneer of the use of technology in K-12.

Themistocles Sparangis
Chief Technology Director, Technology Services & Support
Los Angeles Unified School District

Themistocles (Themy) Sparangis is responsible for technology services and support for the nation’s second-largest school district. The Los Angeles Unified School District’s Technology Services & Support Group is made up of local area maintenance, telecommunication, and IT customer-support services. The customer-support branch provides help-desk support, repair, and maintenance services for the district’s IT infrastructure and end-user technologies. The telecommunications branch provides repair and maintenance for the district’s phone, public address/intercom, and alarm systems. As chief technology director, Sparangis reports directly to the LAUSD’s chief information officer.

He is also an adjunct assistant professor for the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education. He is a credentialed teacher of secondary physical science, having taught advanced-placement physics, physics, and physical science in the LAUSD, and holds a California state administrative credential.

Sparangis is a member of Phi Delta Kappa, the International Society for Technology in Education, Computer Using Educators, the Consortium for School Networking, and the International Council for Online Learning.

Sam Farsaii
Director of Instructional Technology
Irving Independent School District, Texas

Farsaii has pioneered a 1-to-1 laptop program in the Irving Independent School District for more than a decade, serving over 10,000 students annually. A veteran teacher of mathematics and computer science, he has also served as Title I Technology Specialist for Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston as well as technology project and training manager for the Houston ISD.

Farsaii also has chaired the Texas state computer science contests, created and managed the popular statewide robotics contests, writes articles for national and international magazines on technology and innovation, and has collaborated with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to train principals and superintendents across Texas. As a software developer, Farsaii has helped many districts and nonprofit organizations with custom-developed solutions. He has also served on the Texas Computer Education Association’s board of directors and chaired the1-to-1 Special Interest Group of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).

A speaker who makes presentations internationally, Farsaii recognizes the power of technology to inspire global learners. He has represented ISTE at numerous international events. As a current doctoral candidate, Farsaii is energized about ubiquitous computing and its worldwide instructional impact. He believes technology, when implemented well, helps bridge the gap between haves and have-nots, and through its empowerment, levels the playing field across the world.

Debbie Karcher
Chief Information Officer, Miami-Dade County Public Schools

As the chief information officer for the nation’s fourth-largest school district, Karcher plans and directs its information technology strategy and maintains the integrity of its information systems and a network infrastructure that includes more than 400 schools and administrative locations, 45,000 employees, and 340,000 students. She is directly responsible for more than 500 information-system employees and a $30 million technology budget.

Karcher has spearheaded cost-saving initiatives and system deployments that have received worldwide recognition. She led the development and execution of the project plan that brought the SAP finance, supplier-relationship management, e-recruiting, human resource, and payroll modules online under budget and on schedule.

Through her innovation and foresight, Karcher also brought online the Microsoft SharePoint Portal, which has set standards in information sharing, accessibility, and security. Community members, including parents, employees, and students, have easily available data and resources anytime and anywhere and through a myriad of devices. Her Portal initiative has received wide attention, including in such countries as China and Argentina.

Karcher has received many awards; among them is recognition in the CIO 100 for 2008 and 2010 for her work as Miami-Dade’s chief information officer. CIO magazine noted her work specifically in the implementation of green technology and enterprise architecture.

John Mellios
Director, Education Tools and Technology
Chicago Public Schools

Mellios is the director of education tools and technology for Chicago public schools, the third largest district in the nation. He is responsible for the departments of libraries, materials and educational technology. Over his 13 years in education, he has devoted his career to educational technology, and has worked with the Oakland unified school district, Prince George’s County public schools, and Baltimore city public schools.

He has consulted with the Stupski Foundation and the Fund for Educational Excellence, supporting districts in Maryland around educational technology, data, and assessment implementations. He has managed successful high profile enterprise-wide projects, and is currently leveraging digital content and eBooks to support the district’s common-core implementation. Mellios is a member the International Society for Technology in Education, Illinois Computer Educators, and the Consortium for School Networking.

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